Heather’s Week In The News...

Heather Small and Brian Fortuna ended up in the dance-off on the results show last week. After being saved by the judges and Jessie Wallace leaving the competition here are just a few stories that emerged this week:

“Heather Small shimmered through the quick step with partner Brian Fortuna:
Heather Small, who had been dubbed Queen of the Salsa, set out to impress her son, who dared her to become Queen of the Quick Step. But her shimmering performance, in a sparkling white gown with bright pink underskirt, missed out on the royal status. Craig said he 'loved her energy and performance' but her timing was out. Arlene was less impressed, saying the quick step should be 'bubble and squeak, but it looked like the champagne had gone flat!' Heather took 23 points out of 40.”

“Strictly Come Dancing's Heather Small says samba boosted sex life:
The M People star, whose sexy samba wowed the judges, says spending five hours a day training with dance partner Brian Fortuna fills her with passion. She said: "I've always had pep in my step but now it's got renewed vitality. "Dancing makes you very aware of your body and all the exercise has made me very excited. "I've lost weight, I feel tighter and there's something that happens inside of you that bubbles away...a renewed passion." And she says her partner of nine years - barrister David Neita - notices the benefits. She laughed: "Dave's happy about the effects it's having on me." Heather - who shot to fame with hits such as Moving On Up and Search For The Hero in the 90s - is proud of her trim frame. She's a petite size 8-10 but insists she'll never lose her natural curves. She said: "I'm always going to have my Afro Caribbean backside and don't mind if it comes into a room half an hour later than me as long as it comes in high and makes a statement." She might be 43 but Heather doesn't feel she's ageing at all. She added: "I don't do Botox, I laugh a lot but have no wrinkles. It's part hereditary but I've never drunk, smoked or taken any drugs, Some people say, 'What a boring girl,' but the payback is I will have my voice forever and hopefully I'll be wrinkle-free until I'm 100." Heather is also enjoying working with 26-year-old American Brian - who previously appeared in Dancing With The Stars, the US version of Strictly. She said: "Brian is a flatterer, a charmer and his way works for me. "But he's only patient to a point. When I'm not doing it right after a few times he'll say, 'OK enough, let's get on with it'. "We're like brother and sister but when he's my dance partner he's the leader and I listen to him." Heather is not daunted by the 17-year age gap, saying: "I think it's good. The beauty of dance is if you do it well nobody's looking at your age." As well as support from Dave and Brian, Heather also has the backing of the other man in her life - her 11-year-old son James, whose father is former England rugby ace Shaun Edwards. She said: "James loves the show. Every time I come in he asks me how I did that day on a scale of one to 10 - he's more competitive than I am. "I'd like to go far with Strictly but the first challenge for me is getting the steps right and wearing as many frocks as I can." Heather will play Ronnie Scott's legendary jazz club in London, October 27-29.”

“Small hits back at 'Strictly' judges:
Heather Small has claimed that the Strictly Come Dancing judges were too "harsh" when they commented on her performance at the weekend. The M People singer and her partner Brian Fortuna faced criticism for poor footwork and a lack of energy after dancing the Quickstep in Saturday night's show. "I was surprised because I thought it was quite harsh," Heather admitted on spinoff show It Takes Two. "I enjoyed the dancing though, so I tried to take on board what they said, but it was a bit conflicting. When Craig [Revel Horwood] had to jump to my defence I knew that there was something going horribly wrong!" Fortuna added: "There were things that I agreed with in what they said, but at the same time I think that Heather came out and she nailed it. She kept an energetic smile on her face from beginning to end and that's what we set out to do. Now, the footwork might not have been perfect all the way through, but I was very proud of what she did." The couple eventually found themselves in the bottom two but were granted a reprieve after the judges chose to eliminate actress Jessie Wallace. Asked about the result of the public vote, Small insisted: "I wasn't shocked. I mean, with the scoring we got we were third from bottom so you know that you're not saved and the likelihood of you being in the dance-off is quite high."

“Whatever you do will be judged:
She was known as the Small woman with the big hairdo and even bigger voice. But it’s her salsa that’s currently sending fans into a spin as she dazzles judges on BBC smash hit show, Strictly Come Dancing. London-born Heather Small, front woman for the Manchester-based 90s band M People, has largely stayed out of the limelight over the last 10 years, as she devoted herself to raising her son James, now 11 and a keen rugby player like his father, former Wigan star Shaun Edwards, from whom Heather has now split. She was thrown in at the deep end when she agreed to partner ballroom-dancing professional Brian Fortuna for the cult show. “I decided to appear on the show because I thought it would be fun,” says Heather, 43. “I’ve had no formal dance training before but I love to dance. It’s quite difficult but Brian’s a great dancer and teacher, and I know I’ll continue with it. “I like to dance salsa because of the Latin rhythm and its energy, but I also like the quickstep, even though it’s very different. There’s an elegance to it I enjoy.” Last weekend, Heather and Brian just survived a dance-off against Jessie Wallace and Darren Bennett. But she reveals she’s more afraid of failing to live up to her own perfectionist high standards, than she is of being voted off. Heather, who goes to the gym for 75 minutes every weekday, is vegan, and does not smoke or drink, explaining that anything addictive is something she doesn’t want to be part of, says failure is her biggest fear. “I’m afraid of failure not in a financial sense, or anything like that, it’s more of an emotional thing, especially when you put yourself out there and whatever you do will be judged. “You have to be able to say ‘I did my best, and I’m happy with what I’ve done’. I don’t like to do anything badly.” While she’s not superstitious, she’s a “creature of habit” when it comes to pre-performance routines to maximise chances of success. “There are a few things I do, so that wherever I am there’s continuity and I know it’s going to be showtime,” she says. “Before I go on stage, I always drink ginger and lemon tea, I have my rice cakes in there, and I do my relaxation. “I like a certain type of routine, and if that’s thrown off, I think maybe it’s not going to be a good show.” Heather lives in West London but says she maintains strong links with the North West. This year, she headlined at the Southport Summer Classics and opened Clitheroe’s new performance venue, the Grand. With M People, she sold more than 10m records. When the band took time off to pursue solo ventures, she scored a massive hit with Proud, her solo album of the same name. Oprah Winfrey adopted the song to sum up her own achievements, and Proud was also adopted as the London Olympic Games bid’s anthem, injecting the campaign with much-needed fizz and energy. With her inspirational, aspirational “walk tall” style of song, belted out in a voice that could launch rockets – and music of choice for everything from selling cars to emotive charity clips – it’s no surprise she cites strong black women who have triumphed over adversity as a creative force for music and life in general, Ella Fitzgerald “because of the purity and technical ability of her voice”, and Nina Simone – “a very strong, opinionated woman, and she brought that strength and opinion, as well as her vulnerability, to her music.” Writer Maya Angelou is another of her heroines. “I’m a big fan of her books and her whole philosophy on life. She’s got such an indomitable spirit – she turned 80 this year – and she’s a person who has learnt from life, and even after the rollercoaster of it, she’s still got optimism and faith, and she’s still feisty. “It’s what I’d like from my life – to  live and learn, be wise and to go on without bitterness.” The best piece of advice she’s been given, she says, is “don’t look to others, just look to yourself and your own standards.” “I’m trying to do that on Strictly Come Dancing,” she adds. After the competition, she plans to disappear on holiday. Nice holidays, she says, along with Stella McCartney products are her primary indulgences. “Being a vegan in Stella McCartney’s world is quite expensive. She’s radical – she’s out there trying to use materials that don’t harm the environment or any other living thing. Her clothes are one of my indulgences. “I’ve been to Grenada and Bali this year, but where I go next on holiday depends on how long I stay in Strictly Come Dancing. “If I go out early, I shall be going somewhere far away. I’d like my next trip to be to Sri Lanka – I’ll leave everyone else behind to deal with the aftermath!” Heather Small appears at Warrington Parr Hall on Saturday, October 25. Tickets are 22.50 and are available at www.gigsandtours.com or on 0871 2200 260”

Read the judge’s comments and other stories from this week on the BBC Strictly site:

Tonight the boys and girls join together so anything can happen! Heather and Brian will be dancing the Samba.